FORT WALTON BEACH — A local community member and activist was disheartened Monday when the Fort Walton Beach Police Department shut down his free lunch stand at Liza Jackson Park.
"I’m sad for the people in the community who were relying on me," said Jason Harwell, who started the project.
At around 11:40 a.m. only a few hours into his newly created stand to help students receive access to free lunches, he said the Fort Walton Beach Police Department told him without a permit, he would have to pack up his sandwich stand.
According to the Fort Walton Police Department, one of its officers spoke with Harwell about distributing prepared items to the public without a permit or approval from the Health Department.
RELATED: CORONAVIRUS NWF - What’s open & what’s not? - A list of closures and what is still open
RELATED: CLOSURES BAY AREA- Events, services, schools, canceled due to coronavirus concerns
RELATED: CORONAVIRUS: Okaloosa and Walton spring breakers crowd beaches, take some precautions
RELATED: CORONAVIRUS: Seaside to temporarily close commercial district
"The officer also said she had a pleasant conversation with him," the police department said.
"I think this is a social injustice because it’s only hurting those in the community," Harwell told the Daily News.
Prior to setting up his stand, Harwell said he sent Facebook messages to the Fort Walton Beach Police Department and the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce to see if the project was allowed, but received no replies.
Before the police department arrived, Harwell handed out around a dozen sandwiches to students, homeless individuals and others in need.
Harwell brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, deli meats and cheese sandwiches, fruits, chips, and juices to give away.
Harwell said he would try and find another way to get the lunches out to those in need.
"I was under the impression that my right to freedom of expression is protected and the 11th Circuit Court ruled that the oldest form of self-expression is that of sharing food," Harwell said in a Facebook post on his Felons are PARENTS TOO page.